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Following a lackluster performance Friday at Graham in which Galax saw a two-point third-quarter deficit turn into a 15-point loss, the Maroon Tide players experienced a little chewing out after the game and in practice the following Monday.
The Tide responded by doing a little chewing up on Wednesday.
Galax clamped down defensively on Fort Chiswell to the tune of just two first-half field goals, racing out to a 28-point halftime lead and bouncing back with a 70-47 Mountain Empire District win.
“We had a pretty good couple days of practice,” Galax coach Verl Brown said. “We told the guys we had to get back to what we had been doing early in the season and getting up on people. That’s what we’ve done when we’ve played well, even going back to when we won the state, is playing good defense.”
Brown said he and his staff made it clear that his guys would play hard or play sparingly.
“We’ve got nine guys who can go with out much drop-off,” he said. “They had to have some energy or we were going to sub.”
The energy was there, alright. Galax (6-3 overall, 1-1 district) limited the Pioneers (4-3, 0-1) to just 11 field goal attempts in the first two periods and played such energetic defense that the Maroon Tide had more first-half steals (15) than rebounds (11).
While Galax’s defense all but shut down the Pioneers for the first half, offensively Galax whipped around and through the Fort Chiswell zone defense and repeatedly found open teammates, inside and out.
Tide post Caleb Pack scored six points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists in the first eight minutes. He and fellow post Chase Garvey set up nearly as many points as they scored with interior passing.
“I’m very proud of the big guys for how they passed the ball and looked for each other,” Brown said. “Overall I think we finished better tonight than we have all season.”
Pack dished off to Darian Brown for an easy layup, then scored in transition off a Keyshawn Brown steal as Galax erupted for a 16-1 lead at the 3:40 mark of the first period. Fort Chiswell managed six first-quarter free throws but was scoreless from the field, attempting just three shots from the floor.
Cliff Conley went off in the second period, nailing three 3-pointers and scoring 15 points as the Maroon Tide lead ballooned to 43-15 by halftime. Galax was 9-of-13 from the floor in the second period and would shoot nearly 60 percent (30-of-51) for the game.
Eleven of the 12 Galax players who stepped on the floor scored, led by Conley’s 24. Darian Brown added 10 points. Fort Chiswell got 19 points from Dylan Hale, 13 coming after halftime.
“All the years this staff has been together, we’ve never had a team that we felt like just quit,” Brown said of the Graham loss. “We might get beat but we don’t quit. We didn’t feel like we got the whole effort for four quarters at Graham, but the boys came back and played hard tonight.”
Fort Chiswell......6 9 12 20––47
Galax................20 23 14 13––70
Fort Chiswell (4-3, 0-1)
Shelton 1 2-2 4, Mabry 2 0-0 4, Rathbone 1 0-0 2, Jakubiak 3 0-0 6, Archer 1 1-2 3, Hale 7 5-5 19, Byus 1 4-6 6, Widelo 1 0-0 2, Rider 0 1-2 1. Totals 17 13-17 47.
Galax (6-3, 1-1)
K.Brown 1 0-0 2, Bartlett 2 2-3 6, Conley 10 0-0 24, D.Brown 5 0-0 10, Merdian 1 0-0 2, Quesenberry 1 1-2 3, Matthews 2 0-0 5, Pack 3 0-1 6, Garvey 3 0-0 6, DiGiacomo 2 0-0 4, Beamer 1 0-0 2. Totals 31 3-6 70.
Three-point field goals – Fort Chiswell 0-4, Galax 5-15 (Conley 4, Matthews). Rebounds – Fort Chiswell 27 (Hale 8), Galax 20 (Pack 5). Turnovers – Fort Chiswell 25, Galax 15. Team fouls – Fort Chiswell 9, Galax 14. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none.